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The Best U.S. Women's Open Ever
I began this article Sunday morning after watching the players in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont Country Club finish the rain-delayed third round. But even though I don't know the winner yet, I have some observations to make about this year's Open that won't change regardless who wins.
Beth Ann Baldry of Golfweeek has had the best coverage of the tournament (http://www.golfweek.com/news/2010/jul/04/complete-us-womens-open-coverage/). With Beth and her partner Sean Martin, there is no need for me to go over the details of the rounds. But do not miss Beth's articles about Kelli Shean of South Africa - now playing at Arkansas - who was discovered and supported by the Ernie Els Foundation (http://www.golfweek.com/news/2010/jul/08/amateur-shean-tackles-odds-oakmont). Kelli, an amateur, posted the first 70 of the tournament and although she does not like to make a big deal about it, Kelli only has 25% of her hearing. Even though Kelli is now out of contention, I hope the cameras give her some face time.
Golfweek and Beth are on to something about women's golf and I hope they keep it up. A few months ago they circulated a magazine called Golfweek for Her. It was refreshing and, although they were vague about whether they will ever do another issue, I hope they do. They seem to understand both the print and, most importantly, the online coverage that women golfers value.
Women's golf has never looked better at this Open! Every player seems to have a unique personality beyond their golf swing. They have different demeanors on the course, the leaders vary in age from 15 to 37 and I haven't even mentioned the different apparel styles. The USGA and TV announcers did a good job of including the personality of the players in their comments. This is a lesson for Michale Whan and everyone at the LPGA.
Maybe it's the nature of the Open itself which allows players of all ages to enter the tournament and bring diversity to the game. Unlike the LPGA Tour, where a player must be 18 years old (with a couple of exceptions), it is going to be thrilling to watch 15-year-old Alexis Thompson play in the top six. In 2009, Lexi made history as the youngest female to make the cut at the U.S. Women's Open (see my History of Women's Golf Timeline http://www.nancyberkley.com/774892.html).
The sweet spot in the golf industry is junior girls. About one-third of the players who qualified and played in the first round were 21 or younger. If you would like to know more about Alexis, who turned "professional" before finishing high school, see an interview of her in the 2007 issue of Golfer Girl Magazine. Although Golfer Girl Magazine is no longer being published, all of the issues of are still available online. See Libby Hooton's interview of Alexis at http://golfergirlmagazine.com/pastissues/summerfall07/summerfall07pages/page22summerfall07.htm.
The final round of the U.S. Women's Open is a good opportunity to share with the junior golfers in your family. Playing golf as a junior may not always lead to being a top Tour player, but it opens doors to careers of all kinds. See www.golfergirlcareers.com, where I interviewed junior golfers who did not become professionals but found careers in other fields because of their experience as a young golfer.
Watching women golfers is a lesson in itself. Because most female golfers cannot match men in terms of muscle strength, they get their power in different ways. What's important for all women golfers, potential women golfers and juniors is the realization that there is not one kind of swing that works for everyone. But there is a swing that will work for everyone that wants to play golf.
Sunday evening 6:30 EST. And the winner is - Paula Creamer. What an amazing finish. Congratulations to one of the best - and nicest - women golfers of all time. Here's to many more championship rounds and a well-healed left thumb for the champion!
Nancy Berkley, President of Berkley Golf Consulting, is an expert on women's golf and junior-girls golf. She is a frequent contributor to www.cybergolf.com/womensgolf. Her book, "Women Welcome Here! A Guide to Growing Women's Golf," published by the National Golf Foundation, is an industry reference on marketing golf to women and spotting trends within the industry. She offers information and advice about the golf industry on www.berkleygolfconsulting.com and is often quoted in national publications. She is also the author of the NGF publication: "An Insider's Guide to Careers in the Golf Industry." She was a contributing editor of "Golf for Women" magazine and a founding advisor of "Golfer Girl Magazine." Her interviews with women in the golf industry now appear on www.golfergirlcareers.com. Nancy lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Harvard University and Rutgers Law School. After a business and legal career, she decided to write about the game she learned and loved as a teenager. She describes herself as a good bogey golfer with permanent potential.